Veteran surprises kids after they throw out first pitch at D-Backs game (video)
For Jackson (6), and Alanna (5) Aguirre, the plan when they were to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Chase Field before the hometown Arizona Diamondbacks took on the St. Louis Cardinals was as follows: they would perform their duties, throwing the ball to home plate and then they would watch a video greeting from their father, Lt. Col. Paul Aguirre, who was stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, up on the video board.
Little did they know that the catcher behind home plate fielding their pitches was in fact their father, who, thanks to the tremendous work by the Diamondbacks organization, had an even bigger surprise for his children.
Jackson and Alanna hadn’t seen their father in person in seven months due to his voluntary deployment to Afghanistan, only communicating with him via conversations on Skype. Paul Aguirre, who through 2011 had never missed Opening Day or final home game (regular season or playoff), Diamondbacks game, made plans to establish the same tradition for his family surrounding his favorite baseball team when Jackson was born, and both children, up until this season, had never missed a Diamondbacks home opener during their young lives, either.
But unfortunately, with dad deployed, this season was different. But the kids knew that daddy would be home soon, just not exactly when that day would arrive.
Told that they have been so good during their dad’s deployment, Jackson and Alanna would have the honor of throwing out the first pitch and then they would see their daddy up on the Jumbotron. That’s when the heartwarming scene played out in front of 200 friends and family members who were in the stands.
On Monday it was all about his kids. Aguirre donned a D-backs uniform and catcher’s gear, a disguise that would allow him to catch pitches from both of his children. Then he would reveal himself.
He took his position as Jackson and Alanna, their backs to home plate, watched their dad deliver his video message. They then turned and took turns throwing — Jackson first, then Alanna.
Aguirre lifted his mask. And after briefly processing their dad’s presence, both children were scooped up in his arms.
“I was thinking, ‘That’s Daddy, even when the mask was on,'” Alanna said afterward.
Said Jackson: “I didn’t know it was my dad, even though he looks like him.”
It was just as Aguirre had predicted. If anyone was going to recognize him in disguise, it would be his youngest, the analytical one.
The reunion continued in the tunnels of Chase Field after the family exited the field to sustained applause. As Aguirre knew she would, Alanna asked more questions, trying to figure out just how her father had pulled off such an extravagant surprise.
She jumped into his arms. Jackson took his father’s hand.
Anyone with children — or even those without who have a loved one overseas — can only imagine how special a moment it must have been for the Aguirre family. The plan had been in works for weeks, after Aguirre emailed the D-Backs organization, informing the team of the profound impact and place the Diamondbacks had within the family, in order to see if they would be able to help out with a heartwarming surprise for his children, who had sacrificed so much so their father could serve his country.
“For us it was a no-brainer,” Arizona CEO and president Derrick Hall said. “When we got the letter, we wanted to do all we could.”
And because of the team’s willingness to help out, every member of the Aguirre family will have a moment to treasure for the rest of their lives. And we have been fortunate enough to share in this wonderful moment.
Jeez, I have no idea what’s going on with my eyes. There must be a lot of dust in my office or something.